Weekly News Round-Up: September 13, 2019

Last week over 85 leaders from across our network gathered in Berkeley to explore ways university and other institutional endowments can incorporate community impact in their investment strategies - from ESG considerations to place-based investments to working with Community Development Financial Institutions and other strategies across asset classes. Stay tuned for a full recap!

In the round-up this week there’s a powerful argument for how higher education can adapt in order to shape the future of capitalism, as well as arguments for and against fossil fuel divestment. We’d love to hear how these debates are playing out on your campuses, among your clients, and in your offices!

Opportunities for Action

Climate Survey | Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School

  • This global survey seeks to understand how - if at all - institutional investors and board directors incorporate climate related issues in their investment decision making and their oversight responsibilities, respectively.

ESG Consultant RFP | State of Rhode Island

  • Deadline: September 18, 2019. Rhode Island’s State Investment Commission (SIC) has issued a Request for Proposals, seeking a consultant with deep knowledge and understanding of ESG integration techniques across multiple asset classes. The consultant will support the SIC investment team in developing a strategy for adoption of ESG integration in the investment policies and procedures relating to private assets (equity, credit, real estate and infrastructure) of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island’s defined benefit plan, subject to the approval of the SIC.

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit Call for Proposals | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature

  • Deadline: September 30, 2019. Colleagues from all disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives are encouraged to submit proposals for next-level conversations, workshops, and concurrent sessions for the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. If you have more general ideas for shaping the Summit, please submit them here.

The Investor Case for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence | Investor Alliance for Human Rights

  • Deadline: October 4, 2019. The Investor Alliance for Human Rights invites all institutional investors to sign on to a newly released statement entitled "The Investor Case for Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence." The statement calls on all governments to develop, implement, and enforce mandatory human rights due diligence requirements for all companies headquartered or operating within their own jurisdictions or, where appropriate, to further strengthen these regulatory regimes where they already exist.

Sign-on Opportunities:


New Resources & Reports

Unlocking the Potential of Frontier Finance | Global Impact Investing Network

  • New research by GIIN assesses key features of frontier finance impact investments and finds significant opportunity for making an impact in this sector. Based on analysis of 40 frontier finance transactions, 10 interviews, and a workshop discussion with 39 investors and other ecosystem players, this report uncovers significant financial and impact motivations for entering the space and identifies recommendations to scale the market to achieve global development goals.

Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

How Making Smart Financial Decisions Can Have a Positive Impact on Climate Change | Time

  • The executive managing director of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund explains why the fund has chosen to integrate ESG issues throughout its whole investment process, including requiring equity portfolio managers to engage with the companies they invest in on critical environmental issues.

CalPERS, Wellington Launch Climate Risk Evaluation Framework | Chief Investment Officer

  • The $373 billion CalPERS, and investment management firm Wellington Management have launched a framework designed to help companies assess and disclose the potential risks of climate change on their business. The framework is intended to improve how companies disclose their physical vulnerabilities and help asset owners and investment managers better evaluate how companies they invest in will be able to adapt to risks.

Dutch Pension Giants are Attempting to Develop a UN Sustainable Development Goal Investment AI Platform | Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute

  • APG Asset Management and PGGM are working together on creating an artificial intelligence (AI) investment platform that can identify potential “sustainable development investments” (SDIs). This “AI” platform would hope to reveal how much the internal universe of 10,000 listed companies are contributing to the UN’s SDGs. Both Dutch investor parties are working with Entis, a technology unit of APG, to develop factors and variables aimed at ranking and categorizing companies based on SDIs.

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Good Business | Bloomberg

  • In Bloomberg’s weekly guide to sustainable finance, read about proposals from the Global Commission on Adaptation for $1.8 trillion to be invested in climate adaptation by 2030; the shifting economics of natural gas vs. renewables with storage; stakeholder-inclusive corporations; green bonds, and more.

ESG Investors Don’t Have to Compromise on Performance, Lyxor Says | ETF Stream

  • A screening-based strategy for ESG scores can raise the ESG profile of both passive and active portfolios without reducing risk-adjusted returns according to a recent research paper from ETF issuer Lyxor.

PRI in Person: Natixis IM CEO on Empirical Evidence in ESG Investing | IPE

  • ESG investing has become an empirical target for investors rather than a means to achieve other outcomes, according to the chief executive of Natixis Investment Managers. Addressing delegates at the PRI’s annual conference in Paris, Jean Raby suggested there was insufficient progress on a range of environmental and social issues despite rapid growth in funds “launched by us asset managers to fulfil demand for strategies driven by the incorporation of ESG and non-financial factors, broadly speaking.”

Commentary: 4 Key Questions to Help Investors Avoid Greenwashing | Pensions & Investments

  • This commentary argues that investors should consider four key questions to cut through the sustainable investing confusion and avoid greenwashing: Does the investment manager subscribe to integrated thinking? Is the manager engaged with portfolio companies to drive change related to sustainability? Is the fund manager ‘walking the talk?’ What's the true meaning of SRI labels applied to a fund?

Hurting the Planet is not Only Bad for Humanity, It Can Be Bad for Business | UConn Today

  • When it comes to climate change, one segment of society wants to do good and do well: investors. Be environmentally kind, yes; but build wealth, too. In short, hurting the planet is not only bad for humanity, it can be bad for business. All of which brings pressure to bear on companies that are polluters. How will this shake out? This interview asks Stephen Park, an associate professor of business law and the Satell Fellow in Corporate Social Responsibility at the School of Business.

The 3 Phases of ESG Fixed Income Investing | ThinkAdvisor

  • ESG bond investing is small compared to equities, but is growing. A Morningstar report outlines what advisors need to know in selecting these funds.

Future Returns: Investing in the ‘Food Revolution’ | Barron’s

  • Several long-term trends affecting how the world grows and consumes food are presenting attractive investment opportunities largely in private markets, where startups are involved in everything from plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products to vertical farming.

Europe Leads Institutional Investors’ Embrace of ESG | Pensions & Investments

  • London-based CoreData Research surveyed 800 institutional investors with a collective $16 trillion in assets under management, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, sovereign wealth funds, private banks, insurance companies and money managers around the world. Overall, 37% are considered ESG embedders, with a high degree of corporate engagement, and sustainable and impact investing; 52% are early stage adopters using a combination of negative screening, positive screening and investment decision integration; only 11% reported no use of ESG considerations.

China Plays Fast Catch-up with the Global ESG Wave | Sunday Guardian

  • Most Chinese investors considered compliance with ESG guidelines to be an unacceptable compromise on returns, with the country’s corporations viewing ESG as little more than a box-ticking compliance exercise. But China is now playing catch-up in the ESG stakes with speed, narrowing the gap between the government’s global aspirations and the conventional mindset of its international investors and corporate boards.

Shareholder Engagement

Shareholders Told Opioid Companies They Had An Oversight Problem | ValueWalk

  • Shareholder engagement is leading to broad governance changes at opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers, as detailed in progress report by Investors for Opioid Accountability.

Norway’s KLP Pressures Agribusiness, Investors to Save the Amazon | Chief Investment Officer

  • KLP, an $80 billion Norwegian pension fund, is pressuring agribusiness companies and their investors to end activities in Brazil that are contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In particular, the fund named Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, and Cargill as companies it is looking to confront in its efforts.

On Guns, Faith-based Investors Provide an Object Lesson in Shareholder Engagement | Impact Alpha

  • Subscription required to access.

Meet the Man Who Helped Curb Gun Sales at Walmart | Barron’s

  • You can thank John Streur, at least in part, for Walmart’s decision to restrict gun and ammunition sales. Streur is the sustainable investing titan who runs Calvert Research & Management, a unit of Eaton Vance. On Aug. 20, two weeks after a gunman killed 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., Streur wrote to the retailer’s chairman, Gregory Penner, a former Walmart executive who had married into the Walton family, calling for action.

Big US Sustainable Funds Fail to Support ESG Shareholder Proposals | Financial Times

  • Big US fund managers that have promoted their credentials in tackling sustainability issues have done little to support environmental and social shareholder proposals, their voting records reveal.

Socially Responsible Retirement Funds

It’s National 401(k) Day. Is Your Firm’s Plan Aligned with Its Sustainability Goals? | Greenbiz

  • Last year the World Business Council for Sustainable Development became the first organization to bring together top asset management firms, financial advisers and member companies to work together to identify and address the common barriers inside companies that are keeping them from adding socially responsible funds to their retirement plans. IEN is launching a new initiative on this topic - click here to learn more!

Community Impact Investing

Why Opportunity Zones Could Be Key to Transforming Our Cities | World Economic Forum

  • For communities to flourish, we must go beyond relocating businesses and creating jobs. Rather, we must look for holistic opportunities to create vibrancy across the board, from coding schools and talent retraining efforts, to funding the arts, to solving for large scale environmental risks, to supporting accessibility pipelines around existing inequality gaps. OZs allow us to look at communities as systems to bring in thoughtful investments.

Rockefeller Foundation Pours Millions of Dollars to Keep Opportunity Zones on Track | Barron’s

  • The Rockefeller Foundation is injecting another $3.7 million into programs to steer the Qualified Opportunity Zone program closer to its mission of boosting economically distressed areas.

Green Bonds

RCBC Issues First US Dollar Sustainability Bonds | The Asset

  • RIZAL Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) continued its pioneering sustainable financing efforts in the Philippines as it priced on September 4 the first US dollar sustainability bonds out of this market amounting to US$300 million.

Amundi teams up with Asian infrastructure bank for $1bn climate bond fund | IPE

  • Europe’s largest asset manager has launched a $500m climate bond fund in partnership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The organisations are aiming to raise an additional $500m from other institutional investors for the Asia Climate Bond Portfolio before starting to deploy capital from January 2020.

Do Green Bond ETFs Produce Green Returns? | Financial Advisor

  • There remains a lack of standardization about what exactly constitutes a “green bond.” The Climate Bonds Initiative is a go-to source for certification standards on climate-related green bonds, while the Green Bond Principles, an effort from the International Capital Market Association, provides guidelines for green bond issuers and offers information for investors.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Roadmap For African Startups | Forbes Africa

  • There has been an explosion of African startups all over the continent, and investors are missing out by looking for the same business models that work in Silicon Valley being run by people who can speak and act like them.

Gender Lens Investing

Corporate Boards Should Focus on Gender Diversity, Climate Risk – Survey | Pensions & Investments

  • Corporations should assess board gender diversity and evaluate and disclose climate change risk, results of Institutional Shareholder Services' (ISS) 2019 Global Benchmark Policy Survey showed.

Sustainable Finance Curriculum

Columbia University's Earth Institute and AllianceBernstein Unveil First-of-its-kind Climate Risk and Investment Research Curriculum | Yahoo Finance

  • Columbia University's Earth Institute, home to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a world-renowned Earth and climate science research center, is collaborating with leading global investment management firm AllianceBernstein (AB) to create a first-of-its-kind intensive curriculum focused on climate risk and investment performance. All investment teams at AB will enroll in a pilot program over the next year during which the curriculum will be presented in integrative, interactive intensive sessions. The investments teams will be guided to evaluate how companies' risks and opportunities are associated with global climate change, including rising sea levels, wildfire hazards, predictive modeling for extreme weather and other potential consequences. The outcomes of the pilot program will enhance the curriculum so that it can serve as a model for the broader investment industry.

Investment Firm News

Beyond Investing Launches Vegan ETF | ETF db

  • Beyond Investing launched its U.S. Vegan Climate ETF on NYSE Arca, providing investors with a fresh spin on socially responsible investing. Based on the Solactive US Large Cap Index, which tracks America’s biggest publicly traded firms, the "Beyond Investing US Vegan Climate Index" is a passive, rules-based index of U.S. large cap stocks, screened according to vegan and climate-conscious principles.

North Sky Capital Raises $220 million Secondaries Fund | North Sky Capital

  • IEN member firm North Sky Capital announced the closing of its latest impact secondaries fund, Clean Growth Fund V, with $220 million of commitments. The fundraising target was $150 million. Investors include prominent pension plans, foundations and family offices from across the United States and Europe.

MSCI to Strengthen Climate Risk Capability with Acquisition of Carbon Delta | Yahoo Finance

  • MSCI Inc., a leading provider of critical decision support tools and services for the global investment community, announced that its subsidiary, MSCI Barra (Suisse) Sàrl, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Zurich-based environmental fintech and data analytics firm, Carbon Delta AG, a global leader for climate change scenario analysis. 

Sustainalytics Launches Country Risk Ratings for Fixed Income Investors | PR Newswire

  • Sustainalytics launched its Country Risk Ratings, which combine ESG and economic indicators to provide fixed income investors with a forward-looking assessment of country risk. Nearly half of all fixed income investors now integrate ESG considerations into their investment decision-making processes, according to research by CFA Institute. 

Norwegian ESG Powerhouse on What Other AMs Are Getting Wrong | Citywire Selector

  • With ESG investing becoming mainstream in Europe, sustainable investing pioneers Storebrand Asset Management are concerned that there is an over-reliance on engagement and a rejection of exclusion as an ESG investing tool.

How an Impact Investment Firm Co-founder Sees the Future of Capitalism | Greenbiz

  • A full five years ago, the CAPROCK Group surpassed $1 billion in impact-oriented assets under management. Its co-founder and managing director describes Caprock’s history in the field, how Caprock became a founding B Corp and what he sees as the future for capitalism.

BNPP AM Details Engagement with Issuers, Regulators and Public Policymakers | BNP Paribas

  • Stewardship and engagement are important drivers of the move towards a more sustainable financial system in which investors are focused on long-term value drivers and the ESG aspects of investing responsibly.

Economic & Policy Shifts

The Move to Stakeholder Capitalism is an Opportunity to Reshape Education | Boston Globe

  • In this op-ed, Denison College president Adam Weinberg argues that we have the opportunity to remake our educational approach for a new generation of college students who understand how businesses and markets operate, and also how human beings think and what they need.

The Climate Investment That Promises 400 Percent Returns | Forbes

  • Since at least 2005, experts have known that every $1 spent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on mitigation saves U.S. taxpayers $4. And the benefits do not wait in some distant future. Some benefits, such as jobs, accrue immediately.

Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

2050: The Fight for Earth | TIME Special Report

  • TIME brought together some the world’s leading thinkers on global warming to start the conversations we need to have to knock human civilization off its disastrous trajectory. Read solutions from Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Ban Ki-Moon, Graça Machel, Barbar Kingsolver, Anne Hidalgo, Ma Jun, Peter Thomson, Hiro Mizuno, Michael Mann, Adrienne Hollis, Andrew Blum, and Randall Munroe.

A Decade of Renewable Energy Investment, Led by Solar, Tops USD 2.5 trillion | UN Environment Programme

  • According to the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019 report, released ahead of the UN Global Climate Action Summit, global investment in new renewable energy capacity from 2010 to 2019 inclusive is hitting $2.6 trillion; and will have roughly quadrupled renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro) from 414 GW at the end of 2009 to just over 1,650 GW when the decade closes at the end of this year.

Thinking Ahead Institute Cites Global Temperature Change as Top Extreme Risk for Investors | Pensions & Investments

  • Global temperature change is the top extreme risk facing investors, followed by global trade collapse and cyberwarfare, according to the Thinking Ahead Institute's Extreme Risks 2019 report. The ranking of the top 15 extreme risks includes first-time issues biodiversity collapse, abandonment of fiat money, and cyberwarfare. Topics dropped out of the top 15 this year are deflation, insurance crisis and terrorism. Global temperature change became the highest ranked risk due to a higher likelihood coupled with significant impact.

Big Oil Spending Clashes with Climate Goals, Carbon Tracker Says | Yahoo Finance

  • Major oil companies have pledged devotion to the goals of the Paris climate accord, but a report from Carbon Tracker analyzing their spending plans suggests their hearts still belong to hydrocarbons. The $50 billion in spending on new oil and gas developments that companies have pledged isn’t compatible with a world that wants to limit global temperature rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Looking Beyond the Climate Change Numbers | Cap Times

  • In this opinion piece, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette argues that climate change is not just about numbers. It’s about people. 

Talking About the Weather: Climate Risk Needs Better Assessment | Council on Foreign Relations

  • A new CFR publication, Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System, summarizes the insights from a workshop of current and former state and federal government officials and regulators, scientists, financial sector and corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, credit agencies, insurers, nongovernmental organizations, and energy policy experts, and includes contributions from seven expert authors delving into related topics.

Even for Non-Believers, These Are the Next Steps on Climate Change | Harvard Business School

  • Are there immediate steps business and government should take to address climate change? Somewhere between trillion-dollar solutions and the next eco-calamity are opportunities to take action, argues John Macomber.

Companies Ignore the Human Implications of Climate Change at Their Peril | Ethical Corporation

  • Mass migration and social destabilisation from climate change present enormous business risks, but the vast majority of companies are overlooking these and focusing exclusively on physical risks, warns Forum for the Future’s Will Dawson.

General Higher Education Endowment News

How David Swensen Made Yale Fabulously Rich | Bloomberg

  • This in-depth article profiles the career and influence of David Swensen, chief investment officer overseeing the growth of Yale University’s endowment from $1 billion in 1985 to $29.4 billion today.

Columbia Endowment Chief Heading to Hawaii | Chief Investment Officer

  • Tim Donahue, chief investment officer of the Columbia Investment Management Company will head to Hawaii as CIO of the Kamehameha Schools endowment. Donahue, who’s overseen Columbia University’s $11 billion endowment since 2016, will succeed Elizabeth Hokada, who will retire after 14 years with the $8.2 billion Kamehameha.

Stevens Breaks $200 million in Endowments | The Stute

  • Stevens Institute of Technology has reached a record-breaking $207M endowment in Fiscal Year 2018, according to a new report. Currently, Stevens’ Outsourced Chief Investment Officer, Goldman Sachs, manages 82% of total assets in the portfolio.

General Higher Education Sustainability News

Lumina Foundation Invests in EduNav to Accelerate Breakthrough Approach to Student Success | Yahoo Finance

  • Lumina Impact Ventures has invested in EduNav, the leading provider of algorithmic-based academic planning software for colleges and universities, to further EduNav’s unique, cutting-edge approach to student success. "Lumina Impact Ventures invested in EduNav because the Foundation believes the company’s solution can have a dramatic impact on helping students graduate or transfer in the least amount of time and with the fewest number of credits," said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina's president and CEO. "We expect the tool to enhance efforts to improve student success, especially among Black, Latino, and Native communities. 

Cambridge University Caterers 'Reduce Their Carbon Footprint by 11 per cent' by Cutting Beef and Lamb Out of Menus in Environmental Drive | Daily Mail

  • The changes follow on from the university's sustainable food policy adopted in 2016. University caterers have seen profits rise by 2 per cent since their menus were revised.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement Crosses $11 Trillion Milestone | 350

  • The global movement to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions announced a major milestone as the total assets pledged to divestment crossed $11 trillion. Campaigners marked this milestone with the release of a new report, ‘$11T and counting: new goals for a fossil-free world.’  The rapidly accelerating pace of divestment commitments is striking: while it took two years to shift the first $2 trillion, the most recent $2 trillion has taken just under 6 months.

Fossil-Fuel Divestment Is a Waste of Energy | Chronicle of Higher Education

  • This op-ed argues that fossil fuel divestment is an ineffective strategy for addressing the climate crisis.

‘Not Another Penny for Dirty Energy’: Juneau Climate ‘Warriors’ Urge State Fund to Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels | Juneau Empire

  • A rally coinciding with the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds annual meeting was organized by local environmental nonprofit 350 Juneau, and speakers included Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé junior Linnea Lentfer, Alaska State Writer Laureate Ernestine Saankalaxt’ Hayes, University of Alaska Southeast professor David Noon, 350 Juneau co-chair Elaine Schroeder, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council indigenous engagement lead Heather Evoy and Inian Island Institute Executive Director Zach Brown. Each speaker voiced heavy support for everyone, including the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, to stop investing in fossil fuels.

University of Toronto and the Climate Crisis: What You Need to Know | The Varsity

  • This article reviews the fossil fuel divestment movement at University of Toronto within the context of the universities’ climate commitments.

Can We Trust Our Trustee? | Catalyst

  • In this opinion piece, a Colorado College student questions whether a trustee’s energy company ties are inconsistent with the school’s sustainability goals.

Partnership Opportunities
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature, February 23-25, 2020, Atlanta, GA. Registration is now live! Provide input to shape the agenda here, or propose a session topic here before the September 30th proposal deadline!

Other Events:

Impact Investing: Driving Social Purpose Through Measurable Investment Returns | Skytop Strategies, September 17, 2019, Boston, MA. Interested members should contact nicole@intentionalendowments.org to access a 15% off registration IEN Member discount code.

Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019 | UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, September 25, 2019, New York, NY (Climate Week)

Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum | RFSI Forum, September 30-October 1, 2019, Oakland, CA IEN Members can use special DISCOUNT CODE: IEN-15 and get 15% off registration.

Business, Investments & the SDGs: A Powerful Opportunity for Shared Prosperity | University of New Hampshire, October 1, 2019, 12:40-2pm, Durham, NH

GIIN Investor Forum | GIIN, October 2-3, 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Interested members should contact hannah@intentionalendowments.org to access a 10% off registration IEN Member discount code.

Color of Education Summit | Public School Forum of NC, The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, and Policy Bridge at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, October 26, 2019, Raleigh, NC

2019 AASHE Conference & Expo: Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy | AASHE, October 27-30, 2019, Spokane, WA

21st Annual Endowment and Foundation Forum | Opal, November 7-8, 2019, Boston, MA

2nd Impact Summit America | Phenix Capital, November 14, 2019, New York, NY. Asset owner IEN members are eligible for complementary registration.

GreenBiz 20 | GreenBiz, February 4-6, 2020, Phoenix, AZ

Croatan Forum 2020 | Croatan Institute, April 27-29, 2020, Durham, NC

Get up to date IEN News

Sign up for our Newsletters